Tropical Pale Ale with Steam Hops

by Karl | Updated: September 18, 2021

Today I’m ditching my usual hop pellets, I’m skipping the boil. As I attempt to brew a tropical pale ale using something called steam hops.

Now, steam hops are hops that have already been isomerized. A process that would normally happen when you add hop pellets into the boil.

Because they are already isomerized, that means I don’t need to perform a boil so well, that means that I’m not going to need an awful lot of water to get this brew started.

I’m brewing a three gallon batch and, uh, I don’t need to account for any boil off just the grain absorption rate. So I’m going to add about 3.9 gallons of water to get started. That’s a crazy small amounts.

Mashing in at my standard 152 Fahrenheit or 67 Celsius mash rest temperature. And when I was thinking about which beer style I wanted to try with steam hops, well, I wanted to try a beer style that could not only test the bitterness capabilities of the hops, but also some of the flavor and aroma capabilities as well.

Like, can we get all of the hop oils out of these steam hops to get a desired flavor? So look, I love pale ales, particularly enjoy tropical pale ales. So this I think should be a really good test to seeā€¦. Can we get that, that bitterness that you would normally get from my isomerization?

And can we also get some citrusy and tropical fruit flavors too? Okay. So this is the only point I’m going to add any heat to the beer. Uh, let’s let it mash for an hour.

I first came across the steam hops in an episode of Shark Tank. The pitch was for a countertop beer making kit called beermkr. This device didn’t include a boil step, which made me wonder what they were doing for hop bittering.

The answer is steam hops, pre-isomerized hops that can be added in the mash or during fermentation. Now when regular hops are boiled much of the hop oils volatize, which makes them bitter, that’s why hops added at 60 minutes are bittering hops. The dominant flavor and aroma oils have been greatly reduced in the boil.

Steam hops are created using steam to bring hops, to boiling temperatures without damaging them. The hop oils volatize out with the steam much slightly would during a traditional boil. The result is a package of pre -isomerized hop pellets. Steam hops have effectively done the boil stage for you, which means you can use them in the mash or the fermentation and skip the boil step completely.

In terms of recipe design for this beer, it’s all about building a malt backbone to support the hops, really looking to highlight the tropical characteristics of the hops in this beer. So the original gravity I’m shooting for 10 57, around 5.5% beer.

The main and base malt is going to be 2 row at 69%. And then to that I’m adding 30% caramel 20, just to give it a little bit of biscuity character, then adding 9% of carapils for the head retention and 9% of pale wheat malt for the mouthfeel.

Now, of course, there are a couple of concerns when you don’t boil beer. One is all boiling pasteurizers, but it turns out that pasteurization actually happens at much lower temperatures. What I’m seeing online is that a 13 minute mash at 150 Fahrenheit should effectively pasteurize the wort. I’m mashing at 152 Fahrenheit for an hour.

So from that perspective, I should be good.

And then the other thing is, as we all know, boiling drives off the dreaded DMS, but it turns out that DMS is only generated once the wort reaches 175 Fahrenheit and above. So as long as we stay below 175 Fahrenheit, then no DMS.

Now a viewer sent me a fun little gadget, a beer opener that is supposed to magically collect the beer bottle top. So you have the beer opener itself and then 3.7 inches below that you install a magnet and the magnet is supposed to catch the top of the beer bottle, the cap or the beer bottle as it falls down. I can’t wait to try this out here goes.

All right, let’s try that again. Can it handle two? That was fun. I’ll put the link in the description below if you want to check it out. All right. Back to the beer. Yeah.

Grains just drain out here for a few minutes and then I’m moving straight into cooling. I’m going to use my plate chiller to chill this down to pitching temperatures. And normally I would run the hot boiling wort through the plate chiller to sanitize. It don’t have any hot boiling wort today. So I just filled up my ferment with star san and I’ve dumped it in there.

Wort is called down now to pitching temperatures. And this is the point I’m going to add my hops. So these steam hops, they come in little packets like this and you by the hops depending on how long it would typically go into the boil.

So I have here some steam hops. These are my bittering hops. This is cascade. So I have one ounce of cascade steam hops, but specifically one ounce of 60-minute cascade steam hops. Okay. So I’m going to add my 60 minute addition into the wort. Then for the flavor and aroma hops, I’m using a combination of cascade, Citra and Amarillo.

For those, I bought more steam hop packets, these ones with 10 minute additions. So this is the 10 minute version of cascade, the 10 minute version of Amarillo and the 10 minute version of citra. Using those, I’m really hoping to pull out some of those citrus flavors and some of that, a real sort of tropical fruit flavor that you typically get from those hops by adding them into the boil for 10 minutes. But I’m just going to pull those in too.

Hop additions done. For yeast, I am going to be using Northwest ale yeast. I like this one because it supports a malty character to the beer, but also a fruity character to the best of kind of perfect, but for my requirements. And I’m going to be fermenting this one at 68 Fahrenheit or around 20 Celsius.

So let’s get this beer fermenting and see how these steam hops work.

Hey Martin, how’s it going? Good. You good? Oh, so, okay. So we’ve got today for you to try a tropical pale ale, made with steam hops. So let’s see what we think about the color of this thing first?

Nice golden color. I’m hoping for some tropical aromas, I, you know, a thing or two about tropical. I love the tropics. Yes.

So let’s see what we get with that. Is there a citrus? Yeah. A little Citrusy. Interesting. Yeah. Okay. Well, let’s give this a try. I can’t wait.

You know what? This would go great with some shrimp. I love shrimp. This would go great. Tropical shrimp, coconut shrimp would go great with shrimp. You can taste a little bit of the citrus. The tropical fruit sort of taste is coming a little bit. Um, and then yeah.

Pretty easy drinking beer. Yeah. This goes down nice. This. I could see this out by the pool beer in hand. This would taste so good. It’s so pretty. I love the color has a very smooth finish at the end, just come out pretty decent. Yeah.

I think it’s a winner. Well, some friends that offer drink too. Yeah. Why not? Beer is better with friends. I think there is no doubt that this is the classiest beer tasting. I don’t know how you would top it.

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